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Five Broncos things you should know: Paxton Lynch, picking up the pieces on special teams, and more


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **The late letdown by the defense at the end of regulation stole the headlines after last Sunday's overtime loss to the Chiefs, but the Broncos might have been comfortably in front in the final moments if it weren't for a series of special-teams miscues.

How bad was it?



Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis did not mince words when looking back at his unit's performance on Sunday night, which included an 86-yard free-kick return by Kansas City's Tyreek Hill, two muffed punts and a costly illegal-formation penalty that was one of four flags thrown on the special teams.

"It was tough to go through," DeCamillis said. "It's uncharacteristic, because the one thing that we pride ourselves on since we've been here is our coverage teams, and we just didn't play well.

"Everybody had a turn, including me. When you play like that, obviously you don't do a good job, so we've got to get that picked up real quick."

He began doing that after a sleepless Sunday night.

"I didn't sleep a lick," DeCamillis said. "It was a rough night, and my kids were all in, my family was there. It was a pitiful night. We've just got to keep swinging from there.

"It's been uncharacteristic. We've never had a game like that here, and I don't want to have another one like that again."

One way to avoid those lapses: play faster.

"We have to play faster than what we did the other night," DeCamillis said. "If you watch, there's a t-shirt that we have that says, 'speed, speed, speed.' They heard that from me. We didn't play fast enough the other night. We have to get back to that this weekend."


The Broncos' on-field preparation continues as Trevor Siemian misses his second consecutive practice while recovering from a foot injury. (photos by Gabe Christus)


Execution and alignment mistakes on the field proved costly -- including the illegal-formation penalty on Cairo Santos' field goal that revived Kansas City's third-quarter touchdown drive and effectively cost the Broncos four points.

"It was a bad mistake -- a horrible mistake to make at that time," DeCamillis said. "You see it about once or twice a year, and unfortunately, the guy that it happened to, you don't want to see it happen to him, because he is one of the best players that we have. We have to learn a lesson from it."

But part of the lesson is for the coach -- and knowing that ultimately, the success and failure of the unit falls at his feet.

"The one thing that I tried to get across to them was [to] not let this make it a get-after-the-players-only [situation]," DeCamillis said. "Any time you play poorly, you need to take some responsibility for that -- in my opinion -- if you're any type of coach. You've got to take some responsibility.

"When you play like that, it's something you missed during the week. I wanted them to know that first. And then we went through the corrections."

One area that needs to be corrected is punt returns, where Jordan Norwood has three fumbles or muffs in 37 opportunities to field the football, giving him the third-worst fumble rate among 25 punt returners this season with at least 25 opportunities to field punts.

"We're working guys as we speak," DeCamillis said. "We've got to just see how it goes and go from there. But obviously that's unacceptable."



Until this week, most of Lynch's practice work came as the scout-team quarterback against the No. 1 defense. Impersonating other quarterbacks forced him to work on areas of his game that needed refinement, but the speed of the league's best defense also gave Lynch a trial by fire that forced him to learn to make quicker decisions.

When Lynch was the scout-team quarterback late in the preseason, interceptions were plentiful. But from days like those, he's built his confidence -- which is where defensive captain DeMarcus Ware sees the most improvement. ,p> "All the way through practice, he has been doing well," Ware said. "He always brings that factor of stringing plays out, too."

And Lynch has become more consistent, Ware added.

"When he's out there playing, he's that Joker," Ware said. "You don't know what you're going to get, but you know that you're going to get consistency."

Added OLB Von Miller: "He's always showed signs of greatness. He's always showed signs of the type of quarterback that we want him to be. It's just about being consistent in the National Football League. It's about consistency with him."



Across the board, Lynch is more settled than he was when he made his first start against Atlanta in Week 5, Kubiak noted.

"He's more comfortable than he was when he played [on Oct. 9]," Kubiak said. "He's more comfortable in the base things. He's more comfortable with the group; you can tell. All those things add up to being more comfortable with everything he's doing each and every day.

"He's further along mentally and further along in what we ask him to do on a weekly basis, and how quickly he processes information now as opposed to six or seven weeks ago."

And Kubiak noted that an effective ground game to take the pressure off and create balance could be the best asset for Lynch if he plays Sunday.

"That's what will help him the most," Kubiak said.


The Jacksonville quarterback has improved his sack rate and cut down on giveaways, in part because he's getting the ball out faster than he was.

But Bortles' unorthodox delivery remains the same, with a long windup and a low elbow point as he prepares to fire, leaving him susceptible to strip-sack fumbles.

"We take note of it on defense, especially how much they give the ball up," Ware said. "We always make sure as pass rushers [of] stripping that ball out and working a little bit extra this week. He does have a funky ball pattern, but regardless, if you can get to the quarterback you can always try to get that strip-sack and make those big plays."

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